Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The first leg

It's lovely to be back in Brissy. It's also good that Kez and Sasi live close to where Kez lived last time I visited. This meant I could go for a walk this morning and to the shopping centre this afternoon without getting lost, a bonus. It's warm and sticky here with bursts of heavy shower adding to the humidity. I just missed getting caught in a tropical down pour and enjoyed watching the curtain of water from the balcony.

It's even better to be in Brissy catching up with the kids, spending time with them and also having time to catch up with the other rellies over here. I had lunch with Des, Karen and Scotty today, a long lunch and a good chat. We don't get to sit and talk very often so I make the most of those times, make the most of their wisdom while enjoying their company.

I think I wrote about me getting the packing down to 20kgs, well that was a bit of a joke in the end. I managed 27kgs in my case after chucking out heaps of clothes, all the wintery ones. I hope it's warmed up in Al Ain by the time I arrive on Thursday. I got to the airport very early to check in, knowing that the best time to talk excess baggage is while there's no queue. I was prepared to pay a bit extra, especially as I had a 10kg carry on, my camera case filled with the cords and battery packs that are so heavy and a lead weighted handbag. And Shirley wasn't there to relieve me of some of the excess as she did last trip.

A funny thing happened when the bag went on the scales. The check in lady, the lovely check in lady, got three readings, 27kgs, 25kgs and then when she moved the bag to the back of the scales, 22kg. We had already discussed the $20 per kg it was going to cost for the excess, had a chat about where I was going and weighed the carry on. As I mentioned, there was no queue.

"Oh well," she said. "I have to take the lowest reading and that's 22 so you're OK". As she put a 25kg tag on my bag with a smile.

She also put a sticker on the carry on to say it was OK too, only little over 7kgs after all. The kindness of people is amazing, a kindness that made my day on a very stressful day. I felt really sad as I looked out the window at Christchurch, my family and my friends disappearing into the distance. I shed a tear or two, while knowing that I was off on another hikoi, another important journey. Next stop Abu Dhabi, then onto Al Ain and a new job, a new way of life for a while.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Last night in NZ

Tonight's my last night in NZ for a while. As I sit and reflect on this I know that I will miss my family, my friends, my peaceful and productive garden. I know that I will miss eating out with my loved ones, as I did tonight and this morning.

This morning we had brunch with friends, a restful occasion where we could sit and commune and peacefully enjoy each others company, an ideal Sunday brunch. I have lived in Christchurch for over 10 years but hadn't ever dined at the Sign of the Takahe, hadn't visited the castle like building that is such a landmark in our area. I have walked and ridden my bike past it many times, just not stopped by to visit. Before today that is, you guessed it, I left my trusty camera at home. It was a place waiting to be photographed and my camera was packed. Will take care of that next time I'm home.

Tonight we went to Lyttelton for dinner, to Freemans. Freemans is the best restaurant around. They serve exquisite food, Italian slow food style, along with a scrumptious Pino Gregio all the way from Italy. The scallops on a bed of risotto were divine; the deep fried prawns delish; the cannelloni scrummy; the salmon and mussels amazing. But the best were the courgette fries, thin slices of courgette fried and crisp and lightly salted. And did I mention the olives, warmed and marinated? One to share was not enough.

OK so I love good food, add to that excellent company and friendly service, a great evening out. We have been to Freemans before, accidentally. We didn't know at the time that they were booked solid weeks in advance, we walked up and got a table late one evening. The food then was also divine.

So tonight's my last night, one more sleep to go and I'm on the plane to Brissy. I can't wait to see Kez and Sasi, to get some Aussie family time. It's Australia day tomorrow so I can enjoy having good time with the kids. I hope to be able to write a post or two, with photos, from Aus but if not, I might be silent for a while.

I hear that Al Ain is not right up there when it comes to Internet coverage. I may have to wait a while to get connected at my flat, may have time without contact, not ideal for me. I've had the heads up that Skype is not able to be downloaded so have a copy on my external drive. I do hope to get that sorted quickly as I am not sure how I'd cope without the net, here's hoping!

The upshot is that my blog might be a bit quiet for a time, I hope a very short time.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Quiet week

It's been a quiet and stressful week, thank goodness it's Friday. Thank goodness it's Friday and I'm sitting here with a cold beer on a hot day, thank goodness it's Friday and I have got almost all my details sorted, including getting the packing down to around 30kg, thank goodness it's Friday and I have my flight details. I finally have my flight details, they have been a major source of stress this week, inwardly anyway. Outwardly I'm my normal cool, calm and collected self, yeah right I can hear others say.

And before you judge about the 30kgs, try packing your life into 30kgs sometime. As one of my friends said, at least you're small so your things are lighter than mine, you guessed it she's packing too. Anyhow, the long awaited eticket arrived this morning and I wish I could include it here, possibly can but can't be bothered working out here, now, without another beer. Did I mention it's hot, about 30 today?

This eticket is the most minimalistic document I have ever seen, two lines with abbreviations that, I am assuming, contain my time and date of flying, the flight number, the airline and where I'm flying to and from. I just need the code to work out the abbreviations, luckily I can read the times and I know I'm going to Abu Dhabi via Brisbane. It will all work out she says trustingly.

After all this is the person who blindly flew from Doha last year to Rome without the faintest idea of how she was going to get where she was going from the airport, no Italian, no Euros, no real idea of where she was going either. And that all worked out. It nearly killed me, I got sworn at by a fierce looking woman when she hit my bag and walking up Via Vaticano in that heat dragging a large bag, well suffice to say, I worked that out so this trip should be fine. At least I think I've got someone meeting me at the airport, here's hoping.

No matter what happens, I'm off on a new adventure, only three more sleeps to go. Quite excited really and so looking forward to seeing Keir and Sasi in Brisbane, spending some time with them. I will get photos, promise.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Outrage!

I've been scrolling through our local news, catching up with a coffee in hand while I have some time. It's been great having today to sort and pack, revelations this afternoon that I'm not going to fit as much in my bag as I'd hoped.

About the outrage. Apparently there's outrage in Israel about two cafe owners in New Zealand not welcoming Israeli people to dine at their cafes. Di writes about this too, that woman must never sleep, and I thought I might add my 2c worth. I also added a comment to her entry, an abridged version of what follows.

This story of outrage seems to have taken the place of real news from Gaza, news of over 1000 Palestinian dead. 1000 men, women and children. That thirteen Israeli's also lost their lives cannot be ignored, it's also tragic. Their families will be grieving too. But over 1000 Palestinian lives? I struggle to comprehend that, the grief of a nation.

Israeli outrage, over not being served in a cafe in New Zealand, get some perspective. Think of those mothers on both sides who have lost their precious children, the loss and the terrible waste that is the Gaza conflict.

In NZ we are getting the usual media fodder from the US, not a very balanced view of the situation. Many people here don't understand the context, the history, the people. I've had heaps of heated discussions about might and right, sharing the little I know of the context, the history and most importantly of the people.

Here the word 'terrorist' has been applied to the Palestinians, children and all. The media plays on the fear this word invokes, easy when coupled with media fatigue, the phenomenon that occurs when we see so much of a story that we get desensitized to the situation and want to move on.

I would like to add that the timing of this invasion by Israel is impeccable, as is the timing of the cease fire talks. Much of the world is being otherwise occupied with news of the US elections and the swearing in of Barak Obama. New Zealand also has a new government and people seem a little detached from the news perhaps because they are on summer holidays, Christmas holidays. This week was back to work for many, back to watching the news at night and reading the newspapers more fully. Perhaps now there might be some public comment from us strangely quiet New Zealanders and our government.

I hope that these cafe incidents don't give us an excuse to focus on this small distraction. I hope we still feel outrage at Gaza, remember those who died, and hopefully feel outraged enough to condemn the aggressors in any such future conflict.

Skybird



Your whole body from wingtip to wingtip is nothing more than your thought itself,
In a form you can see.
Break the chains of your thought
And you break the chains of your body too.

Richard Bach

Jonathon Livingstone Seagull




When I was sorting out my books I came across a small book that had been hiding behind some others on the top shelf. I hadn't read this book in years. This copy was not my first, it was given to me by a colleague as a secret santa gift, something he'd found and thought of me when he did. My other copy is somewhere in a barn up in the Coromandel.

I first read this book in 1976, we studied it in English at school. In 1976 Neil Diamond came to Auckland and our wonderful English teacher took us to see him in concert at Western Springs. For the six of us in my English class, youngsters from a small country town, this was a major expedition. I remember the concert so well, lying up in the trees in the twilight with light drizzle making the air electric, watching the screen with the images of Jonathon soaring while the music washed over me. It was magical.

I'm not sure I understood the messages then, not sure I understand them all now but it seemed that this book found me the other day so I could read it when I couldn't sleep last night. So I could feel Jonathon soaring again, feel the music, and be.

We choose our next world through what we learn in this one.
Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one,
all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome.

Richard Bach

Saturday, 17 January 2009

And little later....


The sky's been amazing tonight, lots of colour and different lights from each direction. I spent some time outside watching and chatting to Annie. And of course capturing what I could of the colours in the clouds. This is one of the better shots, just as I took it. 

We ate outside, a balmy night so peaceful and followed dinner with an affagato. Strong hot espresso over ice cream and topped with fresh cherries, yum. Followed by a couple of Kahlua's over ice. Mmmmm think I need just one more......

An amazing sky


Sitting on my deck with a wine soaking up the view I thought the light on the hills and the forbidding sky were too good to miss. The sky is an end of day nor'west arch, it's been warm here today and I've been mostly inside sorting books for packing, a fun job. 

Saying goodbye

I had my last day at work yesterday, my last day to induct another and tidy up loose ends. I had to hand over my cell phone, slight trauma and then there's my lap top. My new laptop. I'd become very attached to this piece of black plastic, metal and other things so clearing off my files was a pleasure, handing it to the new person just plain horrible. She's also at my desk so I left my lap top docked as I walked out the door looking longingly behind me. 

All this tells me something, I need a lap top of my own. I can hear others snorting with laughter, OK so you told me so many times. All my jobs since lap tops have been invented have come with one plus I have a desk top at home so I haven't really needed my own. Until now that is. I do have all my photos and important files on an external hard drive until I get my next work lap top, a useful device. 

The main problem with work laptops is that going on holidays with them is not usually allowed. So for my first trip from Al Ain to anywhere I will buy my own lap top, promise. I'll be able to write blogs from exotic cafes, drinking exotic coffee with exotic people, yeah right. 

It was a good last day as last days go, especially the bubbly and laughter at the end of the day. Laura, who tells me she will miss me, gave me a wonderful safe travel bracelet made of Jasper. It was just perfect, my colour plus a meaningful use. Thanks my friend, I will keep in touch. 

I am not big on long goodbyes, tend to move on without too much fuss. I think this comes from my nomadic childhood, so many moves, so many schools. I do love to revisit when I get the chance, to catch up on the goss. I'm back in late July so have promised to visit, for now I am heading off on a new adventure. I'm quietly excited, spending the next week packing and sorting and resting. It will be my last break for a while so will make the most of it. 

Thursday, 15 January 2009

And again...


Another photo is off to the Schmap website, this time one of Christchurch taken when the girls and I were out and about. I quite liked this one too, a photo of the Town Hall fountain. This is a popular site to photograph in Christchurch, usually by the tourists rather than the locals. I have noticed more views of my other Flickr photos since I have been on the site. Must sort and add more recent ones to Flickr, a job for next week.

Tomorrow is my last day at work. I stopped on the way home and got some morning tea nibbles to share with my colleagues. I will miss them, I will keep in touch. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

One more thing ticked off

It's arrived! Last year I sent my Masters to be attested by the UAE Embassy in Canberra, part of the process of gaining a work permit in the UAE. First I had to get this notarized and ratified by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs in New Zealand. Today the notarized, ratified, attested document arrived in the post, unceremoniously shoved through the small opening by the postie. I can forgive the postie, they were not to know just how important this piece of paper is. It is now very beautifully decorated with stamps and signatures, ribbons and seals.

I am debating now whether to take this with me or courier along with my new set of passport photos. I am still waiting for my police check so might wait until the end of the week before deciding. I'd hate for this to get lost in the post, besides the process being expensive, it also took time. I am off in a couple of weeks, not long now to get everything packed up and ready.

I'm excited but a little anxious, to be expected really. I am leaving behind my support networks, my good friends and my family. I know from past experience that I can develop new friendships and these people will add to the richness of my life along with those I care for in Aotearoa.

I am lucky that I have friends already in the Middle East and Europe, including two new to Abu Dhabi. Raukura has just got a job in Al Ain with the same company as me and will arrive when I do. It'll be so good to have Rau there to hang out with, I'm sure I'll be adding lots of photos of our adventures.

I just have a couple of days of tidying up to go at work, a week or so to get packed and then I'm off on another adventure, all good really.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Sunday at the beach






On Sunday we went to the beach with friends Annie, Grant and Ruby. It was a bit chilly but not too chilly for Ruby to go splashing in the waves. We went to South Brighton and walked along the estuary path, under the trees and down to the open sea coast. The waves were lumpy, the wind cold and we watched some kite surfers zipping through the waves, impressively fast. 

The pohutukawa on the foreshore was in full bloom and looked fantastic against the deep blue sky. Annie and Ruby found a koru pattern made with stones, a spiral maze, on the mud flats. One of us thought he might take a photo from up a tree, he got caught comCheck Spellinging down. There's a family photo of the Olivers, minus their teenager Megan, very dear friends we have known for ever. Grant's winged at the moment, result of an incident when out riding. Then there's a shot looking along the beach towards Sumner and Godley Heads. 

We finished the day with fish n chips, complete with tomato sauce, lemonade, lots of laughs and tall stories, a real Sunday night tea. And how could I forget the Magnum ice creams for pud. A good day out, although I did get a little sunburnt, just might need to use sunscreen occasionally. 

Dinner out


Keri, Shirley and I had a meal out tonight. It's always great to have a catch up, to pick up where we left off and talk about our lives now and then. We had a few laughs about Qatar experiences and talked about my new adventure. We all keep in touch with different people in Qatar so could get a good picture of how things are there at this point in time.

I'm looking forward to catching up with my Qatar friends when I'm in Al Ain. It's only a short flight away, although being an international flight I will have to spend more time at the airport than I will flying. I'll catch up with Keri and Shirley again before I go and when I come back late July 09 for a few weeks. Hopefully we can get all the Qatar crew together then for a weekend.

The photo is taken at the Flying Burrito Brothers by the very obliging waitress.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Life's simple pleasures

One of my simple pleasures is walking. I enjoy walking and talking with others, solving the troubles of the world, of our lives and the lives of others. I enjoy walking along the beach, winter and summer, gathering the bits I find on the shore. Today's pleasure was walking in the Port Hills, on my own, iPod belting out my music. I do this as often as I can, as often as I need to.

Walking in the hills is how I make sense of my world, where I commune with mother nature, connect with the Atua Papatuanuku and Ranginui and their offspring. I do my thinking while I'm walking and often my shuffled playlist brings forward a song that matches the moment, the people I am thinking of. An example was Bohemian Rhapsody coming on as I walked down the steps where the infamous Hulme Parker murder took place so many years ago.

While I walk I draft conversations with some people, emails to others. I think about the past and plan my future, think about the people in my life I am close to, those I would like to be closer to. The conversations I draft in my head don't often need to be had or the emails sent. I can usually figure out the answers to the unasked questions, why things are as they are, how I can make the things happen that need to happen, what to leave alone, what needs action. All very productive and surprisingly relaxing.

I will miss the hills when I'm away, although there are hills just outside of Al Ain and I am close to the hills of other parts of the world. I'm sure I'll find somewhere to have some productive head space, to commune with mother nature, to solve the mysteries of my world on my travels.

PS I drafted this post while in the hills, of course.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Random photos



I have been sorting out my photos from all the places they're stored so I can make sure I don't lose any. I've come across some great memories. I have added a couple of photos I took when out on my bike. One is from a tunnel on the Otago Rail Trail and the other the joy of mountain biking in the southern hills.

The photographer also had to ride the rail trail and bike up the very long and steep hill to get the photos. Note the snow, it was in the low 30s that day. Tim and Sarah are off racing in the North Island, this one was from a race Tim won last year.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

A very minor dilemma


Today promises to be a good one, hot and sunny, over 30C. Looking at Di's blog and the extreme weather in northern Europe on the news last night, I'm pleased to be in this hemisphere. A friend tells me that it's even cold in Doha, 16C with a freezing wind. Believe me that's cold and miserable, enough to make you hibernate. That wind comes straight off Iran, off those snowy hills a bit bigger than the Southern Alps.

It was like that when we arrived in Doha about this time of year, rain, mud, cold. Very unexpected. Luckily my friend in Doha has one of the warm red blankets we used so often in the first few months to survive the chills. I am hoping that by the time I arrive in early February, it will have warmed some. I have packed a merino or two just in case.

But today in Christchurch it's early, already in the high 20's and I'm heading to work. I've been up since the small hours with an upset tum, not so good. It could be that I ate too much off the barby last night, could be that I am feeling a bit stressed with all the changes in my life. Packing is unsettling, especially as I am packing all my things not just what I'm taking.

I've thrown out heaps, donated books, resources and clothes to friends and the City Mission. Next on the list are my shoes. I'm taking my time with these, wearing each pair lovingly and making a decision to take or keep or biff or donate. This will take some time given the stacks of shoes in my wardrobe, on the floor in my bedroom, the living room, the hall way, the stairs, the laundry. OK, so I'm a little messy and sometimes leave them where I take them off.

You see I love shoes, my only girly vice. I love coloured and patterned and black shoes. I love very high heels and flats and in between shoes. I love peep toes, sandals, strappy numbers, boots, shoes with sequins, shoes with pointy toes, my running shoes, my walking sandals. I have shoes for every outfit plus extras just in case.

I write a little later. I tried the work thing but my tum didn't get any better so I came home. After resting and reading for a bit I thought I'd finish this entry, yep that's dedication for you.

I decided that taking a photo of said shoes, that is the ones who were close by and available, might be best to make my point. Not the most artistic of photos, but see my dilemma? I am leaving the woolly slippers, the others I am sifting through. Yes Lyn, I did bring my blue Billies home with me despite promising I'd put them down the rubbish chute. Just couldn't bring myself to somehow......

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Gaza

I have not written about what's happening in Gaza for two reasons. The first is that I feel ill informed. Because of this I have read as much as I can about the situation. Blogs give a personalised view, especially when they link to others with family in Gaza, with real life experiences of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of war. The western news bulletins are often sensationalised, unbalanced.

I know of the history of that part of the world but mostly from the Israeli side. That's what I was taught at school. I was ignorant of Islam and of Muslim peoples until I observed their way of life when I went to Turkey and stayed with Di. I engaged more when I lived and worked in a Muslim country earlier this year.

Since my experiences in Qatar, I have advocated for the Muslims who are family oriented and peaceful people. People who made me welcome and gave me their friendship. Others have asked me: "What was it like?" Well, it was like being a part of a large family. Like with Christians there are Muslim fundamentalists, probably in equal numbers.

When I see the atrocities of Gaza I see the personal face not the face of multitudes. I see the faces of my Muslim friends, the children I worked with in the schools, the familes I watched playing with their children in the parks, the large family groups picnicking and laughing.

Which brings me to the other reason I haven't blogged about Gaza. Every time I think about it, read about it, see the footage, I feel a grief that takes over, anger at the stupidity of men who fight without thought for the civilians, the women and children, anger at the lack of value placed on the lives of those killed. I have always wondered why some peoples lives are worth less than others. This anomaly has occurred throughout history, usually with the Caucasian peoples lives having more value than those of darker skin tones, those who are not Christians.

Are the lives of 635 Palestinians equal to the lives of 5 Israelis, only one of whom was a soldier? I think not.

Di's blog is excellent. She is extremely well informed on the Gaza situation, well travelled and has links to others from Gaza. Check it out.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Once



Once is a simple movie I enjoyed in Qatar. Having no TV and a ready supply of movies meant that I watched a few on my computer, not ideal for a music movie with the poor sound quality. Once got passed around the group and was enjoyed by all who watched it. The soundtrack, some of which I already had on my ipod, is wonderful. Listening now brings back some good memories.

My copy was in the box that went missing so I'd not seen the movie since. I was at the airport dropping of Nick and Court and I saw Once for sale, couldn't resist. I watched it tonight on a decent sized screen with good sound, yep still a great movie. Enjoy the trailer.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

More photos





We went to the beach early this morning. While Nick surfed and Courtney went for a run, I took these photos. I took more, mostly close ups of surfers from the cliff track. Not very successfully. 

Taylor's Mistake is a lovely spot, one of the few enclosed bays that have surf on the eastern side of Banks Peninsular. There were plenty of people out, as one of the photos shows. It was also freezing cold after the storms of last night. 

It was a wild night with high winds cutting the power in many places and heavy rain. The storm went up the coast, increasing the swells from the past few day. This also meant there was lots of kelp to compete with in the water, not pleasant to have slimy seaweed rub against your leg in murky water. 

Friday, 2 January 2009

A quick trip







Well, the kids are back. No more peace and quiet, thankfully. Nick even brought back most of my my beer. They camped at Te Anau in the rain; visited Milford and went on the obligatory cruise in the fiord's, also in the rain; braved new years in Te Anau, enjoying pizza and the fireworks; drove though the Haast Pass to Makaawhio (Bruce Bay) to join the reunion at the marae, only to find no one had arrived as yet; drove up the coast to Fox Glacier; then on to Hokitika and back to Christchurch. Quite a drive in my little red car, the smallest and fastest on the road apparently. Of course it didn't miss a beat. 

They had a good time, really liked Te Anau and South Westland. I am a little afraid of the bills that might just arrive when they have headed back to Auckland. Apparently the traffic officer laughed as my little red car shot past a large Ford Falcon doing a little over 100 kms/hour. I am unconvinced he was laughing that a Peugeot 106 XSI could pass a Falcon as Nick assured me. I think he was more likely laughing because he had made his daily quota so early in the day and could go home. Gotta love hand held speed cameras, we shall see. 

My camera also went on this hikoi and there are many photos of their adventures. I have included some here. Nick and Court's planning meeting; Milford Sound in the brooding wet; waterfalls; Haast Pass; Roaring Billy Falls; and Fox Glacier. 

The sea

Yesterday I went swimming at Taylor's Mistake. It was freezing and I very nearly bottled out on a proper swim. I'm so pleased I didn't. The sea is a soul place for me, a place to regenerate myself, even when my toes go numb and I start to shiver. My last sea swim was in the Medit in the south of France. That was slightly warmer, refreshing but not breathtakingly cold like yesterday. The waves were a lot smaller too.

I spent my formative years living near the sea, being able to swim and surf and lie in the sun all summer long and surf through the winter with a wet suit. I can't ever remember getting sick, not a cold, no days off school for illness. I did take days off school when the surf was up, missed the bus or better still the connecting bus where we were out of adult range. We jumped back on the bus in the afternoon, complete with crumpled uniforms and lunch eaten. I'm sure someone knew where we were, it was a small place afterall.

When ever I go swimming in the sea, those feelings of being a kid diving through the waves come flooding back. I look longingly at those surfing, I gave that up many years ago, having to grow up quickly. Surfing is freedom, time to empty your mind as you watch the swells and wait for the perfect wave. Time to pit yourself against the forces of nature.

Some times you win and feel the exhilaration of racing along with this awesome force until it spits you off. More often you lose, crashing and tumbling through the wash not knowing which way is up. The worst is when your leg rope gives way and you have no ballast to pull you to the surface, nothing to cling to as you get your breath back and check you are still in one piece.

Swimming yesterday, diving through the waves, the breathtakingly cold waves, gave me some respite from planning, packing and family and juggling all the balls I have in the air at the moment. A soul place, a place of freedom.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Metaphors

Last year I wrote a list of things I had learnt in a week. The thoughtfulness of people was part of that learning. My colleagues gave me some gifts when I left work showing me how well they knew me. One gift was a book called i never metaphor i didn't like by Dr Mardy Grothe.

I have so enjoyed reading it, reading about the differences between metaphors, similes and analogies, enjoyed reading these. Some make me laugh. Some make me reflect. Some I'll share here. I like this one about puns included from the book Get thee to a punnery:

Puns are a three way circus of words:
words clowning, words teetering on tightropes,
words swinging from tent-tops,
words thrusting their heads into the mouth of lions

Richard Lederer

A thing I like to do is substitute words in such puns/metaphors/similes. This saves me making up my own, why reinvent the wheel when there are so many clever people out there. Sorry Richard, but take out the word puns and add the word life. Then alter the tense. Read it like that then take out the word words and adjust slightly.

I think it works........

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, she shouts from the roof tops while watching fireworks explode over the city. OK so I'm writing the day after, so needed my beauty sleep last night.

2009 has arrived, quietly for me but then so did 2008 and look at how far from quiet that one turned out to be. 2009 is to be a year of travel and adventure, the beginning of a new chapter in my life. That began in late 2007 when I said yes to a question I might otherwise have said no to, then yes to several more in 2008. The die was cast, my feet had been itchy for some time. I head off again before the end of this month.

I made the mistake of checking the news this morning and felt very sad, and angry, when I saw the troubles in the world continuing into this new year. Troubled by the lack of value placed on the lives of people by others due to their race, culture, religion. Travel opens your eyes to the value of other human beings, no matter their race, culture, religion.

But I'll write some more about that soon, for now I'll sign off with this quote:

The world is a book,
and those who do not travel read only one page

St Augustine

This is my travel log, the story of my hikoi, my long walk, my journey and adventures, the rest of my book. I hope those who read it enjoy it. Feedback is always appreciated.

Happy New Year!